Have you always wondered when the official kick-off date was for back-to-school shopping? Staples recently declared July 8th as the beginning of the back-to-school season. “We analyzed historic trends and feedback from parents and schools, and added our in-depth knowledge of shopping patterns to determine the official start of the 2008 back-to-school season,” said John Mahoney, vice chairman and chief financial officer of Staples, Inc. “Based on our more than 20 years of experience in the back-to-school supply industry, we can put a stake in the ground in a way that has never been done before. Schools begin opening their doors as early as July, and as a national retailer with a wide assortment of products at great prices, our goal is to make back to school shopping easy for parents and teens.”  According to the 2008 Staples Back-to-School Survey, the overwhelming majority of moms plan ahead when shopping for back-to-school supplies, with 74% of moms shopping two weeks to a month before school starts. In addition, parents surveyed rank school supply shopping as one of the most high-stress shopping occasions, second only to holiday gift shopping. More than 70% of parents polled say they would welcome an official start for the back-to-school shopping season to help identify when they can expect to start finding supplies in stock. By establishing an official start to the back-to-school shopping season, Staples is hoping to give parents a clear roadmap of where and when to find the best products and deals this season. More survey findings are available at http://www.staples.com/btspr.  “The back-to-school shopping season is a very important time for the retail industry. We have noticed that back-to-school shopping has been occurring earlier and earlier in the past few years, as consumers have been looking for bargains,” said Erin Hershkowitz, spokesperson for the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). “Back-to-school items tend to be viewed as more essential, and not discretionary, for the consumer, so they must, and will spend for these items.”